Let’s put the “she” into “She makes”! This post is all about periods — sewing for your period.
Sewing for your period — stay with me here — can make your monthly cycle less of a drag. If you’re like me, I suspect you, too, need a smidgen more care during your menstrual cycle. You may be tired, crabby, achy, or sad.
Sewing for your period is an act of self-care. Special clothes, period-supporting accessories, and even DIY menstrual supplies provide comfort when you need it most.
Let us ride the crimson tide and review top picks for period friendly fashion and gear!
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Clothes That Make Your Period More Comfortable
I have three dress suggestions to keep you fashionable and comfortable while menstruating. I chose this trio because they all flare away or gently skim your body between the breasts and knees — an area that can be sensitive during your period.
- The Nancy dress from Sew Over It is darling. This swing dress is designed for wovens.
- If you’re into knits, try the Ebony T-shirt dress from Closet Case Patterns. I haven’t sewn this myself, but rumor has it that this frock sews up F-A-S-T.
- Big 4 pattern brand Simplicity New Look has this raglan-sleeved shift dress. The thing I like about this pattern is there’s no shaping around the waist, which means it won’t cling to your tender middle.
For tops, loose is how we roll for maximum comfort. Tailored garments give many menstruating ladies the heebie-jeebies.
- If you like the idea of a shift dress but don’t do dresses, try the Rae tunic from Aussie brand Style Arc. That hem knocks me out.
- I feel like the Roscoe blouse from True Bias is a cult favorite. It would let you live out your boho fantasies once a month.
- Long cardigans such as the Esme from Named and the Blackwood from Helen’s Closet (which has a mid-thigh length option) are socially acceptable robes. And when I’m wiped out by my period, a robe it basically all I feel like wearing.
So, if the best garments to put on your top during your period are loose, the best garments to put on your bottom are STRETCHY!
- Let’s talk about the mother of all stretchy bottoms: leggings. If you’d like to dip your toe into pattern drafting, try the Made to Measure leggings online class from the ladies behind the “Sewing Out Loud” podcast.
- Jalie has a great reputation for activewear, and these sweatpants look like they’d sew up with little drama. Plus, the pattern includes a hoodie!
- Let’s get controversial for a minute: harem pants. You can’t deny that a drop crotch would be THE BOMB during your period. Hey, maybe you’d only wear them in the privacy of your home?
Skirts with stretch can be chic and comfortable.
- There are lots of ways you could jazz up an elastic-waistband skirt. Plus, because there’s no zipper to install, an elastic-waistband skirt sews up blindingly fast. Take to the internet/Pinterest for a tutorial!
- If you’re feeling up for it, a stretchy, high-waisted skirt would distract from midsection thickness; the waistband lands at the narrowest part of your body. (And sometimes a little compression feels great.) Check out this high-waisted pencil skirt tutorial on YouTube from Mimi G (who is pictured above).
It can be hard to get moving during your period. I find, though, the high I get from exercise makes me feel powerful and helps me sleep better. Even a little gentle yoga and deep breathing can shift my mood.
- I’m loving this stylish asymmetrical zip jacket and seamed leggings from McCall’s. You could wear that all day after your workout, too, and a.) be comfortable and b.) turn heads with that killer collar/hood situation.
- Beloved activewear designer Melissa Fehr (of Fehr Trade) has a book! It’s “Sew Your Own Activewear: Make a Unique Sportswear Wardrobe from Four Basic Sewing Blocks.” Speaking from experience, Fehr is VERY accessible via social media, if you have any Qs!
- Hey, if you’re game for sewing workout clothes, consider reading “Sewing Activewear: How to make your own professional-looking athletic wear” by sewing vlogger Johanna Lundström. Lundström is obsessed with sewing activewear and self-published this books of her best tips.
Period-Inspired Accessories You Can Sew
Guys, I have this extra-long hot water bottle, and IT IS LIFE. It feels SO GOOD to curl up with this bad boy when I’m all crampy and achy from my period. Sew a luxe, soft cover for your hot water bottle out of minky llama cuddle ivory fabric or this faux long-pile Mongolian sheep fabric (that I want to pet all day).
Or, you could stitch yourself up a comforting rice-filled heating pad (there are myriad tutes for these online). Kaufman Mammoth flannel in the plaid lagoon colorway or Cuddle Suede in gold strike me as particularly snuggle worthy. Add a few drops of essential oil (I suggest relaxing lavender) to your rice, microwave, and Bob’s your uncle (maybe Flo’s your aunt would be more appropriate here?).
When you need the world to just STEP OFF during that time of the month, an eye mask or gently weighted eye pillow can help take you away. Try rich purple silk shantung or purple stretch panne velvet velour for maxing and relaxing. I strongly suggest swatching fabric for any sewing project that’ll spend time around your sensitive eye area.
When I’m feeling less than human during my period, a cup of tea almost always does the trick (at least for a while). Why not sew yourself a mug rug to level up your beverage game? If you didn’t know, a mug rug is an oversized fabric coaster/undersized place mat (usually 8-by-10 inches or so) for your cup and snack. (Google “mug rug” for gajillions of patterns.) Consider using 10-inch pre-cut quilt square packs (also called Layer Cakes) for your mug rug, including this whimsical pack called Big Sky or squares from the Spirit Animal line by über quilt fabric designer Tula Pink. And, while you’re sewing a mug rug, you *might* want to get this hysterical unicorn mug.
Treat dem tootsies right when you’re feeling low! After a good Epsom salt foot soak, slide your feet into handmade slippers or socks (Pinterest can deliver a pattern you’ll love, I’m sure). I’m kinda into this kitten fleece and this digital houndstooth fleece. #treatyoself
I’m a fair gal, but when I’m menstruating, I look positively wan. When you look tired (and especially when people comment about it), you feel EXTRA tired. One of my tricks to look and feel more alive is to wear eye-catching statement pieces — often scarves. Sew yourself a scarf in a fabric and color that makes you feel like your firing-on-all-cylinders best. This Liberty of London LINEN (!) drops my jaw, and I LOVE the rich, cool jewel tones of this Thakoon crepe de chine. Before you sew a scarf, consider the right side/wrong side situation and maybe swatch first. (In many cases, I’d be fine with the wrong side acting as a contrasting color/texture on a scarf, but not everyone is me.)
Obi belts. Let’s talk about why they’re perfect for menstruating fashionistas like YOU. The reason is simple: An obi belt is infinitely adjustable, unlike a belt with prong holes. Feeling bloated? Don’t tie the obi as tight. While I researching this post for fabric, I got into all sorts of unusual faux options: white crocodile vinyl, rich wine-colored leather, Western-feel debossed tan leather, and velvety cowhide WITH SPOTS. If you wanted something less stiff, try sari fabric or linen! You could go neutral or make a statement piece.
Sewing for Your Period: Stuff That Makes You Blush
Black undies are THE BEST during your period, because they’re essentially stain proof. Sew a week’s worth of black underwear to keep your non-period undies in good shape, you menstruation master, you!
Indie pattern designer Megan Nielsen offers her Acacia bikini-style panties for free when you sign up for her newsletter. The Acacias have been getting rave reviews on Instagram. (And if these aren’t your jam, it ain’t hard to find other undie patterns on the good, ole intercom.)
For fabric, try the Kaufman Laguna stretch jersey knit in onyx. And keep those drawers in place with fold-over elastic.
DIY Pads and Period Underwear
I’ve never done the calculations on how much I’ve spent on feminine hygiene products. I’ve been doing this dance for better than two decades, so I’m sure it’s in the thousands. Plus, there’s all the paper waste from pads and tampons. It’s understandable that enterprising women would want to DIY a menstrual solution.
To that end, there are tons of tutorials for home-sewn pads; search the web or Pinterest. There are, however, fewer guides on how to make Thinx-style period panties.
The thing is, sewists are FASCINATED by period panties. The topic was HOT in The Self-Sewn Wardrobe Facebook group (a group you MUST join). Through this group, I came across two good articles about period undies:
- DIY Period Panties (or Self Sewn Menstruation Alternative): An experienced sewist shares her version of Thinx, hilariously called Flowzzz.
- DIY Period Panties and DIY Period Panties: The Review: Sewist Clara used a freebie undies pattern to make her period panties, and she followed up on how they worked after six months.
If you’re interested in DIYing a period solution, check out these supplies found on Amazon:
Waterproof Outer Fabric
PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) 1Mil optic white fabric: PUL is the fabric used on the exterior of modern (think: bumGenius) cloth diapers. It’s soft and smooth on the right side and tacky and plasticy on the wrong (waterproof) side. I used bumGenius diapers for our older son and loved them. The PUL definitely is waterproof.
Babyville Boutique Packaged PUL fabric in “girl solids,” “boy solids,” and “neutral solids“: These color packs are for folks making cloth diapers for girls, boys, and babies who reject traditional gender stereotypes. (We diapered our son with a mix of colors, including pink and purple; we didn’t know his gender before he was born. He never complained about “girl” colors. 😆)
Pro tip: Use PUL to make a waterproof “wet” bag for soiled pads and panties.
Zorb original super absorbent fabric: The Amazon product description says Zorb “absorbs 10x its weight in fluids in half a second.” Whoa.
Diaper flannel white fabric: Cotton flannel comes up a lot in searches for DIY pads. Some sewists even thrift flannel shirts for pads.
Certified organic bamboo velour: It’s naturally anti-bacterial.
Athletic wicking jersey search in Arts, Crafts, Sewing on Amazon: One sewist recommended sandwiching the absorbent lining between athletic wicking jersey. Would feel nice on skin.
KAMsnaps Starter Pack: Kit includes 100 pastel KAM snaps, awl and snap press pliers. Snaps secure the pad around the crotch of undies. You also could install snaps in the sides of period panties to avoid taking off your pants when you need to change panties. (Yes, like a diaper, OK? LOL, you have to have a sense of humor about this stuff!)
I know there’s an “ew” factor for some ladies when it comes to reusable period products. I get it; at this point, I’m not ready to wear homesewn period panties. I do, though, like to know what’s out there when it comes to menstruation gear, because the tech is cool. Most of all, I LOVE to see clever sewists doing their thing. MOTHERS of invention, for sure! 👊
OK, sewing friends, I want to hear from you: What are your favorite period-related sewing projects? Would you sew your own pads or period panties? Perhaps even more controversial: Would you wear harem pants? Please sound off in comments! Thanks for reading!
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: Batch Sewing a Bunch of Briar T-Shirts: 5 Tips I Learned.
P.P.S. If you liked this post, I suspect that you’d enjoy this one, too: Sewing for Depression and Anxiety: 24 Sewing Ideas to Improve Your Mood.
Such a fabulously interesting post! And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has thought to make a bunch of dark undies for the bleed week. I’m in the Navy and just had to swap out to a different type of uniform, so now I have several navy blue t-shirts that are about to be repurposed for the greater good. 😉
And it’s interesting that you mention water bottles – I’ve always thought it odd that they don’t have more of a presence here in the states. I like the rice bags in particular, though, because you can sew lavender or other herbs into them so that you get some aromatherapy with the heat.
Hey, Julia! Thanks for reading! I’m glad your ex-T-shirts will be going to a better place. 😀 Seriously, though – dark undies are the best. Underrated, IMO.
RE: Hot water bottles – I LOOOOVE mine. I don’t know why I didn’t get on the hot water bottle train earlier. It’s so much better than an electric heating pad because you don’t have to sit near an electrical outlet! I could go on and on about my hot water bottle like a crazy old lady, LOL.
This is a great idea – Im especially liking the idea of making a few dresses that are loose around the tummy… I can’t wear anything that presses into the tummy. Black Undies are great as well.
Woo hoo, I’m glad you came away with some great ideas, Kay! Thanks for reading! And I think those dresses would sew up FAST! Super bonus!
Another great post–thank you for compiling so many great ideas and resources! Knowing what has worked for other people is super helpful, as I never really gave much thought to sewing for my period previously. Along with looser fitting clothes (where do all those extra inches even come from?!?!?), I find natural fibers or breathable fabrics to be a must-have. My temperature regulation is AWFUL during my period–I’ll be bundled up one minute and sweating the next!–and polyester is the absolute last thing I need to be wearing, haha!
I do have special underwear for my period week–they’re not absorbent or “tactical,” but they have snarky period puns and funny images on them, so they lift my spirits about having to deal with my period. 😉 I’ve got enough pairs for 2 periods worth, so they’re holding up very nicely; I need to get some of the new designs though, because they’re hilarious. And bonus, the crotch lining is black–on purpose! (Period Panties by Harebrained, in case you’re curious!)
Thanks for reading, Abbey! And great point about natural fibers. My temperature regulation also is out of whack during my period.
Your period panties sound like fun! Cool! And using black for the crotch lining is genius.
I am beyond these days, thankfully! but I loved this post–creative and great graphics!!! Keep up the great sewing, creativity, writing and life-ing!!
Thanks, Nancie! This was a fun post to put together, and I’m especially happy with the graphics. Thanks for noticing. I actually used crayons!!!
HAHAHA, this is awesome. I have ‘regular’ and ‘overnight’ reusable pads patterns I’ve made. They’re flannel with cotton batting insides., the ‘overnights’ have an extra layer of fleece on the underwear-facing side. Snap ‘wings.’ They all have a holding strip for extra layers – also learned from cloth diapering! I’ve never shared the pattern or anything, but they are the only things that hold up to after-baby…uh…you know, heavy flow, and more recently, after tubal ligation heavy flow. I don’t need the extra layers now that I’m post-tubal ligation, but after – NOTHING else held up or even compared. If anyone out there is a heavy cycle kind of person, nothing compares to cotton batting and flannel. I have a lidded ‘soaker bucket’ – much like the poo bucket of cloth diapers. And like cloth diapers, having an extra rinse and extra hot cycle is nice. Also, like cloth diapers, gotta use like Charlie’s soap or BioKleen or something like that and NO fabric softeners. LOL. Great post. And yes, Black Underwear FOREVER.
Oh, I stand corrected – I made one side of the pads envelope-style so more layers can be added. It has been so long, I forgot how I made them! lolz.
Hey, Becky! Thanks for reading!
Thanks for the insight on the cotton batting and flannel! It’s invaluable intel.
Oh, and thanks for the reminder about how to wash DIY pads! I forgot about that with cloth diapers! (Funny how quickly you forget that stuff when you’re not doing mega loads of laundry every day, HA HA HA.)
I’m too busy this week, but I should totally find my patterns, make a PDF and instructions. Maybe I’ll do that next week and link back here for coordinating wardrobe ideas!
YES! Please do! 😀
I think this article is brilliant!!! I honestly thought I was the only one that thought about sewing stuff that is loosish on the tummy etc..like jumpsuits, high waisted leggings . Thanks for this article..I feel much better about the idea of sewing for my period than I did before I saw this!
Thanks for reading, Sherol! Sewing for your period is TOTALLY legit. Your body is so sensitive during that time; it makes sense to give yourself special treatment!
Totally! Makes for a happier time ! 🙂
Great article. For me, it’s also about making dresses with pockets, so i don’t have to take my handbag everywhere so i have supplies on hand. And pockets are also useful for the other 3 weeks too! Can either hide the pockets in seams or make them a feature.
Yes yes yes, Wednesdayskitty! Always add pockets!
Thanks for reading!
I truly hate period week – it feels like everything that is touching me is attacking me (can I just re-itterate how much I hate jeans when I have my period?!) I am all about comfort and cozy when it comes – so I LOVED this post. So many sweet ideas, plus it was nice to remember I’m not the only one.
Hi, Victoria! Thanks for reading! Period week can be hard and weird and exhausting. A LOT of other ladies feel the same way. I’m glad you found some support from this post. Are you inspired to stitch up anything? LMK! I’m on the verge of making Made to Measure leggings from the Sewing Out Loud crew. I have them all drafted and everything!
Just thought of another thing… yoga waistbands for bottoms – both pants and skirts!
YES! You’re a genius! So comfy. Thanks for reading. 😘
I just came across your post… my daughter is starting puberty and I’ve been reminded of all of the “surprises” I had as a teen when my period arrived as a gush when I was least expecting it, forcing me to run to the bathroom, shove toilet in my panties and wrap a sweater around my waist for the rest of the day. I’m now on the hunt for period panties to fit my tiny-waisted girl that cost less than $30 each!
I made pads for me before I got a hormonal IUD which essentially stopped my period and I also made cloth diapers but I’ve never made panties and I’m not 100% sure I want to try. But I really like the idea of taking existing panties and adding essentially a pad to them: I’m sure I can handle that.
If you’re into sewing, making your own pads is totally worth doing. I didn’t even have to buy anything but the PUL as I used fleece for a “lining” and old towels (I had some red ones, so convenient!) for the absorbent part.
Thanks for the inspiration to be brave and make more things for my daughter, so she won’t have to suffer the embarrassment of menstrual leaks like I did, hopefully.
Hi, Melissa! Thanks for reading, and you’re welcome for the inspo! Feedback like yours makes me so happy; you have no idea!
You totally can come up with a pad/panty solution! Sewing is all about experimentation, right? I love how you repurposed old towels. Smart.
Just a thought – if you daughter is a smaller human, it might be good to test different size pads for her. I’m also a smaller-medium size person, and I sometimes find that heavy-flow pads are too big for me and can be uncomfortable and shift around. I’ve legit thought about how makers of feminine hygiene products decide how big to make pads. Think about it – if you’re wearing a smaller size panty but need a heavy-flow pad, there’s overhang, which SUCKS. If you can sew, you can make a pad that better fits your undies. I dunno if this is useful, but it’s something that’s been banging around my head.
Leaks are the worst, and I think as sewists, we have an opportunity to come up with a solution to head them off. When/as you fiddle around with this problem, please report back and let us know what’s worked and what hasn’t. This is critical knowledge!
P.S. For insight on sewing menstrual goodies, I suggest checking out the Self-Sewn Wardrobe FB Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/SelfSewnWardrobe. It’s EXTREMELY body/body function positive and full of sewists who can share advice on the period issue.
Good luck, and thanks again for reading!